Phobia Therapy in Toronto

Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that causes persistent and irrational fear of an object or situation. 

Phobias often seem to develop ‘out of nowhere,’ but usually, they are the result of an increase in generalised anxiety or a traumatic event. They can be limiting and debilitating if left untreated.

What are the three types of phobias?

There are three major types of phobias: specific phobia, social anxiety disorder (or social phobia), and agoraphobia.

Specific phobia

Specific phobias are irrational fears to particular things like animals (dogs, spiders, snakes), situations (flying on a plane, being confined in a small place), people (clowns, doctors, dentists), or environments (rain, thunder, darkness). 

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is the fear of situations in which there exists a possibility one may be humiliated in front of others. Social anxiety disorder is very common and affects about 13% of the Canadian population.

Some people experience social anxiety disorders in specific situations, such as speaking in front of an audience. Others experience a more generalised social anxiety in response to going to social events or eating in public.


Agoraphobia is the fear of public places, especially those where immediate escape might be difficult or impossible. It is often associated with panic attacks.

Commonly feared places include public transportation, elevators, and bridges. People with agoraphobia may also fear being in crowded places.

What causes phobias?

Our brains store information about dangerous events. For example, the first time you touch a hot stove, your memory of the burn reminds you not to do it again.

Phobias occur when the brain retrieves images of frightening events inappropriately. These images release fight-or-flight hormones that put the body in a state of high alert and stress without any real danger.

There is usually no single cause that generates phobias. Multiple factors may contribute to its development, and it may be difficult to figure out when it begun.

Phobias may be caused by a combination of:

  • Genetics
  • Past traumas 
  • Long-term stress or anxiety
  • An intense, distressing event
  • Learned responses in childhood

What is the best therapy for phobias?

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) can provide remarkable change in the area of fears and phobias. 

Aims and objectives for phobia therapy include:

  • Small and incremental exposure to the feared object
  • Identifying negative and irrational behaviours related to the phobia
  • Identifying irrational fears and thought patterns related to the phobia
  • Making lasting changes in the thoughts and behaviours that accompany the fear

Phobias can be overwhelming and highly distressing, but they’re extremely treatable with the right support. 

How does phobia therapy at KMA work? 

Phobia therapy at KMA begins with a 50-minute introductory session with one of our intake counsellors.

In these 50 minutes, we will ask important questions to determine the severity and treatment approach needed for your phobia:

  • Are you overcome with the thought that something bad will happen to you?
  • In what situations do you find your phobias affect you the most?
  • How long do you remember experiencing phobias?
  • How does your phobia affect your daily life?

Here at KMA Therapy, we believe it’s important that we get to know you so that your phobia therapist is the right fit. The consultation is also a wonderful time to address any questions you may have.

We will provide you with a customised ‘plan of action’. It includes the recommended phobia therapist who is best equipped to help you, as well as any additional testing or psychological services we feel would be helpful.

Get started with phobia therapy today

We offer phobia therapy in person at one of our five Toronto offices or online, via Zoom.

To learn more about phobia therapy, give us a call at 416 487 6288 or fill out our registration form below and our care coordinator will reach out with more information. 

You can also book a session with us directly. 

In the meantime, read the articles below to learn more about anxiety and phobias:

Learn more about other mental health concerns at our issues page.

Let us help you overcome your fears and take back control of your life!

KMA Therapy

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